The Fist In The Face
Working Title: Pity Party, Table for One
Winter 2011 - Immediately following Daredevil In The Mold
A/N: Thought I would join the throng of people posting stories post Daredevil. Yes I agree that DB did a great job of acting in the last few scenes, but no I do not feel in anyway sorry for Booth. Here's why:
It was three in the morning in the dead of winter; the temperature was hovering at just over thirty degrees. Brennan stood near the parking lot with her coat wrapped around her tightly trying to stop shivering. Sweets pulled up and jumped out of his car.
"Thank you for coming, Dr. Sweets. I didn't know who else to call."
"What's going on? You said that Booth was in trouble and it was urgent."
"He is. It is." She paused to collect the exact words she wanted to say. "Booth asked Hannah to marry him tonight and she turned him down."
"Oh no." Sweets did not see that coming.
"I don't understand his reasoning for such an action. Hannah told me that it was agreed between them that marriage was not something that she would be open to. I wonder what changed his mind."
Sweets looked guilty but didn't comment.
"Booth did not react well. Hannah is moving out of the apartment tonight and Booth got drunk. And now ..." Brennan nodded over to the tidal basin. A very drunk Booth was tromping around in the water looking for something. Two park police officers stood nearby. "They wanted to arrest him. I asked them not to. They have given me fifteen minutes to get him out of there. He won't talk to me anymore. He is very, very angry. I can't help him. Please see what you can do," she pleaded.
Sweets approached Booth as Brennan kept a discrete distance.
"Hey Booth ... nice night for it, huh?" He tried to joke.
Booth kept sloshing around in the water but turned his head toward Sweets. "There he is!" he slurred. "The man of the hour ... the man with the plan ... the shrink of shrinks. Get in here, boy ... help me find this ring."
"The ring? You threw that million dollar ring into the water?"
"Yeah ... just pissing my money away along with my life, right?" He lost his balance and fell backward into the water. "Can't imagine why you wouldn't want to end up like me, huh Sweets?"
The officers motioned for Sweets to hurry up. He walked into the water too. It was freezing cold. "Booth, Booth dude," he shivered. "We have got to get out of here."
"I want that ring back ... gonna make an earring out of it to commemorate strike three." He made a batting gesture as he was trying to stand up and fell back into the water. "Three strikes and you're out, right?"
"Come on, Booth," Sweets tried to pull him up. "We'll find it tomorrow ... we'll have the park people look for it ... or we'll get the FBI to come out and drag the basin. Booth this is pretty deep, man."
Booth allowed himself to be pulled up. He tried to focus on Sweets but there were too many of him.
"Sweets," Brennan called over to him. "You need to get him out of there, with the amount of alcohol he imbibed and the temperature of the air and water ... he could go into hypothermia very quickly."
"You're telling me," Sweets said under his breath.
"Bones? Is that Bones?" Booth looked toward where the voice came from. "What are you doing here, Bones? ... Thought I told you to go away!" He looked back at Sweets. "What's wrong with these women, huh Sweets? They don't want you, but they won't leave."
"Booth, we need to get out of the water." Sweets tried to say on topic.
"Rebecca, Bones, Hannah ... Hell Tessa, Sandra, Candi with an I ... There are a ton of them over the years ... all these women say they love me ... but they don't want me. They'll work with me or they'll fuck me, they'll let me save their sorry asses from certain death or buy them dinner … but nothing else … What the hell is wrong with them? … I've got all my teeth … I make a decent living … I'm good looking … hell, even Bones wanted my DNA for a kid … but just my DNA … nothing more .. oh, no ... just my stuff … just like Rebecca … and hell, Hannah didn't even want that. All Hannah wanted was a good time. Yeah, well I had a blast. Wahoo!"
"We should talk about that, Booth ... you know ... we should talk about all of that ... just you and me ... we can figure this all out ... but maybe we can do that some place ... you know ... dry ... warm ... not here."
Booth grabbed Sweets shoulders and pushed him arm's length away. "Sweets … DUDE ... Ya know … I should be pissed at you. All this is your fault. You say you're a shrink ... you say you know all about this touchy feely crap ... I've listened to you ... twice, I took my cue from you ... at least twice ... and all I get is shit on. You forced me into this ... It's your fault."
Booth balled up his fist and landed a blow square on Sweets' jaw. Sweets fell back into the water like a stone with a huge splash. Booth lost his balance and fell back as well. That was it, the officers were done. They walked into the water and pulled Booth to standing, handcuffed him and dragged him to the edge and made him sit on the sidewalk. One officer went to help Sweets who was trying to stand up.
"Hey," he mumbled wincing in severe pain. He found the ring and held it up like a prize. The officer escorted him out.
Brennan rushed over. "There is an ambulance on the way. We need to get him to a hospital to get his temperature back up."
"Get out of here, Bones!" Booth yelled. "I don't need you ... I don't need your help ... you have done enough to break ... no, no, no ... hearts don't break ... hearts crush, isn't that right, Bones? You can't break someone's heart, you can only crush it. Crush it like a tomato. Crush it like a bug under your shoe. Crush it like ... " He lost his train of thought.
Brennan couldn't help the tears rolling down her face. She looked at one of the officers. "Please get him to a hospital."
The officer nodded once. Brennan backed away.
"Go ... Go ... that's right Bones ... run away ... that's what you are good at ... run away ... as far and as fast as you can."
The officer kneed him in the back. "That's enough buddy. She may have just saved your life."
"Yeah? Wouldn't be the first time ... don't know why she bothers."
"You're a real jerk, you know that?" the officer said.
"So I have been told - repeatedly ... by three different women."
"So catch a clue, dude."
Booth woke up in the hospital. He was hooked up to several IVs and covered with warming blankets. The light hurt his eyes, his head was pounding and his stomach was queasy. He was still cold, still angry and he was hung over too.
A nurse was hovering over him checking his vitals and adjusting his bedding. "Morning sunshine," she said brightly. "If you need to vomit, the bucket is next to the bed. Would really appreciate it if you didn't miss." She was a woman around fifty. She would have been called buxom in her youth when her waist and butt were smaller in proportion. Now she was pretty solid. She had kind eyes, but a don't-fuck-with-me look about her that told Booth to do what he was told. "Doc will be making her rounds in about an hour." She caught his eye. "Be nice to her," she warned.
"Coffee?" Booth asked.
"Water … and a lot of it." She nodded to the pitcher by the bed. "I'll send in a food tray in a bit. You should eat."
"No, please. No food."
"Look, you're cute and all … but don't mess with me, I have no time for women haters."
Booth shook his head. "I don't hate women."
"Could have fooled me with all that crap you were spewing when they brought you in."
"I like women," he protested. "I love them. They don't like me."
"Then take a long look in the mirror, brother. And try to see past those puppy dog eyes, crooked smile and that big swinging dick that you have been coasting on most of your life. You ain't all that."
With that she left. Booth tried to get up but a wave of nausea washed over him and he lay back down and closed his eyes. He tried to remember what happened. He remembered Hannah's rejection and he remembered being surprised and angry. He remembered her saying that she would get out of his apartment that night. He remembered his first couple of drinks, but after he ordered his first Tequila shot his memory started getting blurry. He remembered talking to Brennan at the bar and being pretty pissed off. He remembered fighting with her – well she didn't say much so he wasn't much of a fight, but he didn't remember exactly what he said. And he remembered being in water, but he didn't know how that related. That was all.
There was a soft knock at the door. He looked up as Sweets walked in dressed in scrubs and a bathrobe. There was a huge bruise on his jaw with an impact point the size of Booth's fist. Booth suddenly remembered that Sweets was there at some point the previous night too. He winced to see Sweets' face. He knew that he was the one who hit the kid.
"Ew, Sweets, you OK?"
Sweets nodded and pointed to his jaw. It has been wired shut.
Sweets shrugged and made a noise that sounded a lot like 'ok'. He handed Booth the small black box. Booth took it reluctantly. He snapped it open and a little water dripped out onto his lap. The ring was still safely tucked in its place. It looked really big; kind of gaudy. He didn't think it looked that big in the store. It wasn't Hannah's style at all. She liked simple jewelry or no jewelry. She didn't wear rings or necklaces. At Christmas he tried to buy her something but she asked for a new camera instead. He snapped it shut and tossed it down on the tray in front of him.
"Thanks, man," he said solemnly. "Suppose you're going to want to talk about it?" Booth asked.
Sweets nodded and took the chair by the bed.
Booth really didn't want to talk about it, but since Sweets felt the brunt of his not-talking-about-it, he felt that he should say something. "I guess I threw a little pity party last night and it got out of control."
Sweets nodded. He mumbled something that sounded like Hannah.
"Not much to say, she turned me down."
Sweets motioned for him to continue.
"You need a blow by blow?"
With a bit more prompting Booth recapped the whole scene, from rushed proposal to tossing the ring in the water. It was a sentence to the effect of: he asked, she said no, dinner got canceled, she left, he got pissed, threw the ring in the water and got drunk. He left out a couple salient points: Hannah had made it clear to Booth from the beginning that she was not the marrying kind (whatever kind that was) and that he made it clear that she was to get her stuff out of his apartment that night. It was pretty harsh.
Sweets tried to say something but it hurt too much. Booth suggested he write it down. Sweets took the paper and pen from the side table and wrote: WHY.
"Is this helping me?" Sweets nodded. "She said she didn't want to get married – like it was nothing personal." Booth shrugged. "She sort of told me that before," he added like it was unimportant fact.
Sweets looked surprised and interested by that comment.
"Yeah, well, when we hooked up in Afghanistan it was sort of understood that it was just a casual thing. Before I left to come home, the love word kept getting used and when she moved back here to be with me … well I guess I assumed she changed her mind."
"Guess not," mumbled Sweets.
"Fuck it, ya know? Just doesn't matter anymore. She's gone. She got her stuff out of my apartment last night. The hell with it." He held up the ring. "Thanks for getting this back. The lady said no returns, but ... well I'll think of something. Give it to you for Daisy."
Sweets shook his head and wrote on a new sheet of paper: Dr Brennan?
"I am not giving this to Bones, man. You need to stop beating that horse."
Sweets shook his head and wrote: what happened last night?
"You mean between me and Bones?" Sweets nodded. "Yeah ... well I'm not sure what I said to Bones last night. I was pretty drunk. But I'm sure it wasn't an intellectual exchange of ideas. Hannah shouldn't have called her."
Sweets wrote: Saved your life and possibly your career. And then he wrote again: Apology.
"No, she doesn't owe me an apology."
Sweets pointed at Booth emphatically.
"I should apologize to her?" Booth tried to sit up again and was forced to lie back. "What for?'
Sweets gave him a face that says 'come on.'
"I really don't remember what I said to her. I was pretty drunk by time she showed up and I really didn't want to see her ... ya know ... couldn't really face another woman who didn't want me."
Sweets started to write but Booth cut him off.
"Yeah, yeah I know what you are going to say. She told me she loved me ... or some such ... not in so many words ... never in so many words."
Sweets pointed at him.
Booth hedged. "I don't think I said it ... yah know ... like that ... I love you ... she knew what I meant, she's a genius."
Sweet shook his head.
"Doesn't matter Bones doesn't believe in marriage either - nothing personal. It's an archaic institution. Ya know - whatever." Booth sat up and adjusted the bed. "Isn't it amazing that the three women I fall in love with are not the marrying kind." Booth caught Sweets' eye. "What? You saying it's my fault? ... I'm the common denominator?" Sweets nodded. "You'll probably say that I chose these women because I really don't want to get married and by picking women who don't want me, I get to be single and it's not my fault."
Sweets couldn't have said it better himself.
Sweets wrote out: Did you really want to marry Hannah?
"Of course I did ... I bought the damn ring and everything."
Sweets pointed at himself.
"What you think you talked me into it? Are you some kind of Jedi master now doing some Jedi mind trick on me?"
Sweets shrugged. He made a fist and brought it to his face implying Booth's confrontation with him the night before.
"Are you saying that I hit you because I think you talked me into asking Hannah to marry me?"
Sweets nodded and flipped back to the page that said: Dr. Brennan.
"And Bones?" Booth laughed. "Get over yourself, Sweets."
He held up the page that said: WHY
"Why what? Why don't you hold that kind of power over me or why ... I don't know what you're asking. Look, let's just forget it, OK. I have a headache."
"When did you decide to ask Hannah to marry you?" Sweets mumbled with a great deal of pain.
It took Booth a moment to figure out what he said. "You think it was when you were talking about Daisy?"
"No ... I had been thinking about it for a while."
"Since you told Dr. Brennan that she was not a consolation prize?"
"Consolation prize? Where did you hear that?"
Sweets was rubbing his jaw. It was killing him to talk.
"Bones told you that?"
"Why does Bones need to defend me to you or anyone else?"
"Your choice." Sweets swallowed hard and rubbed his jaw.
"I don't want to talk about this anymore."
Sweets got up. He was about at the end of his time too. He jaw was killing him. He needed to get his prescription filled but he needed to say something to Booth. "OK" he mumbled. "Did you sabotage your relationship Hannah by asking her to marry you when you knew she didn't want to get married? Did you do the same with Dr. Brennan a year ago? And why are you so unforgiving? Why is there no compromise?"
"Get out of here Sweets. My head hurts."
Sweets left, but Booth tried to find answers to those questions.
After the doctor came in and signed his release forms. The park police came in and arrested him. He had to put on his still wet clothes from the night before when they took him into custody. He suggested professional courtesy; to drop the charges. The officers said no, in no uncertain terms. Said they would have gone for assault on top of public drunkenness, defacing a national monument and disturbing the peace, but Sweets wasn't going to press charges. It was just getting better and better for Booth.
He was brought before a female judge who was less than impressed that he was FBI. "I would have expected more from an agent with such a stellar background." Booth was contrite and apologized to the court and to the officers. "What were you thinking?" the judge asked.
"I had lost something in the pool and wanted to get it back."
"You lost something?" she queried. "You mean you threw it into the pool." She looked down at the report in front of her. "An engagement ring it says here."
He squared his shoulders; he would take whatever she said to him like a man.
"My guess is she said no, huh?" The judge didn't wait for an answer. "And you were drunk ... well over legal limit."
Booth stood firm.
"This is not the conduct we expect from our law enforcement officials. I suggest you seek some help, Agent Booth; anger management and maybe some substance abuse counseling. We don't want a repeat of the clown incident, do we?" To show her annoyance with the incident and Booth, the judge set the fine unreasonably high. Booth was about to protest but saw the look in her eye, realized that he was not doing well with women recently and decided to keep his mouth shut. "Pay the bailiff and you can go." She banged the gavel.
Booth had no money with him. He had no idea where his wallet was. He had the ring, but didn't think it would be wise to offer that as his bail anyway. He would have to call someone. Sweets? Cam? Hannah? Brennan? Why didn't he have any guy friends who would just come and bail him out and let it go?
He was being ushered out of the court room when he saw Brennan signing a check and handing it to the bailiff. She took the paperwork and turned toward Booth. She met his eye briefly and turned away. She expected him to follow. He did. When they got outside she handed him the receipt for the bail, the receipt from the hospital, the tab from the Founding Fathers from the night before and his jacket. He had thrown it off before climbing into the pool. Brennan picked it up after they took him away.
"Bones -," he said.
"Partners!" she stated. "Just partners ... that was my choice, right? Partners or nothing. Fine. I choose partner and as your partner I bailed you out, paid your hospital bill and your bar bill. You'll pay me back when you can."
Booth vaguely remembered issuing her an ultimatum along those lines. He didn't know what to say.
"Can you find your own way home?" she snapped. "You should get out of those wet clothes and take some vitamin C. As your partner, I don't want you to get sick with influenza and infect me as we work our cases together. Because we are good people putting bad people away. But I think the celebrating will have to be without me. I don't want to cross the line between partner and friend - and I don't want to be around you when you are drinking."
Booth had never seen her so caustic and snide. "Bones, look I'm -"
"Sorry? Are you going to tell me that you are sorry? That you apologize for being MAD at me? I'm not interested in your apology, Booth." She started to walk away but turned back at him. "Someday you will have to explain to me why you get to be so angry. Hannah told you she didn't want to get married - she told me, she told anyone who would listen. So you push that agenda, she doesn't change her mind - and you throw her out? I would never have believed you could be so petty and vindictive. And as for your theory that women don't want what you're offering - all I can say is that I am insulted - insulted, hurt and seriously disappointed. How dare you say something like that to me - to me? After what I told you ... after telling you what I felt - how difficult it was for me to feel that much less reveal it to you knowing that you were in love with another woman. You rejected what I was offering and I still remained a consistent and loyal friend to you and Hannah. I remained a friend after you broke my trust and told Hannah what I had told you - in confidence. So how dare you say that all women don't want what you are offering - how dare you say that to me?"
Booth looked shamed.
"I have been your partner and friend for years. A better friend than you have ever known. I have always been honest and consistent with you as I assumed you were with me. You said to me right from the beginning and repeatedly over the years that there was a line we could not cross. I accepted that. I understood that. I adapted to those constraints. Then one night you changed all that - you changed the rules - just like you did with Hannah. And just like Hannah, you threw me out. You were done. You had to move on. That's it, end of story ... no discussion, no compromise."
"We did compromise. We stayed partners until you left me," he defended.
"I didn't leave you. I accepted an opportunity elsewhere for a year. I discussed that with you first. You heard from someone else and assumed that I made a decision for both of us. That was not true. I had to force you to talk to me. If you didn't want me to go to Maluku, you should have said as much."
"And you would have stayed."
"Yes, Booth ... I value our partnership above everything else. Even now - after all we have been through in the past year, after what you said to me last night - I value our partnership. That's why I am here right now; ensuring that you don't die or rot in jail. I'm here supporting you; being your friend - your partner."
"Screaming at me," he added with a wry smile.
She almost smiled back. "Don't do that! Don't try to charm me, it won't work this time." She turned away from him and walked away.
He pondered for a moment and then chased after her. He caught her arm and she pulled away roughly. "Bones ... Bones ... you're right ... everything you said ... you are one hundred and ten percent right." He smiled again and leaned down to catch her eye.
She struggled with not correcting him or looking at him.
"Bones. Bones. Please Bones, please accept my apology. I never should have spoken to you like that. I was wrong. I have no excuse. I was feeling sorry for myself and a lot of it had to do with you."
"That sounds like an excuse."
"It is ... it is ... never mind ... Please accept my apology. Please. I'm sorry. Really."
She glanced up at him and saw that he was sincere. She nodded. "You should go home and change."
"Ya think? I was just drying out and I'm actually very hungry," he grinned. "Could probably use a little hair of the dog too."
"If you are suggesting drinking more alcohol to aid in the recovery of your hangover, I would suggest you not do that. I understand that it will help you feel better, but it is not a curative."
"Don't need to be cured, just need this headache to go away." He nodded toward that street. "Come on, I'll buy you lunch."
She relented and walked toward the street.
He took his place beside her. "Can I borrow fifty bucks?'
They were back at the Founding Fathers, much to Brennan's dismay; she would have much preferred the diner. Booth ordered a greasy burger and fries and a tequila shot with beer back. Brennan had iced tea and a salad.
She sipped her tea. "You owe Hannah an apology as well."
Booth nodded. "I know."
"Sweets got his apology this morning at the hospital, but I should probably give him another one." He shot a sheepish glance at Brennan. "I broke his jaw."
Brennan didn't know what possessed her but she had to know. "Will you and Hannah resume a sexual relationship?"
Booth downed his shot and bit into the lime. "No," he choked out. "No, I think that ship has sailed for both of us, but she is still owed an apology."
"You loved her." Brennan wished she had ordered a shot too. "You must love her very much if you went so far as to propose?"
"Yeah, you'd think so huh?" He took a sip of his beer. "Hannah and I ... well ... I mean ... I thought we were in love ... I thought we could ... you know ... but we don't want the same things. I suppose I knew that - Sweets would say that I knew; knew that a lifetime commitment was our breaking point and that I rushed it."
Brennan nodded. "Why would you do that if you were happy?"
"I don't know." He smiled. "But it sounds like something Sweets would say."
"Yes it does."
"Maybe because I knew that what I wanted I wasn't going to get with her and by staying with her I was preventing myself from getting what I really wanted." He considered what he said and actually believed it. "Bottom line Bones, there's more to a relationship than love."
"Oh I don't know ... friendship, companionship, common goals. Committing to someone for the rest of your life means both people need to compromise and be willing to make that kind of commitment to each other. It is not for fair weather friends, you know?" He looked into her eyes. "It's about two people, two lost souls finding each other and recognizing themselves in the other and choosing to be together through all the ups and downs of life." The look became too intense. He looked away and waived for another shot and one for Brennan. "Not everyone is lucky enough to find their mate - their soul mate. Some people are too caught up in their own lives to see what is right in front of them, while other people are just afraid or confused or something and pick the wrong mate for the wrong reasons when they should have just waited a little longer." He glanced over at her and again couldn't read her expression. "Or maybe I'm just full of shit," he laughed.
Brennan played with her salad. "I don't believe that." She looked back up at him. "And I suspect neither do you.
He held her gaze for a long moment. The waiter broke the moment with the shots. "I'm too old to be serial dating anymore," he went on. I'm ready to settle down, be with somebody I can like as well as love, someone who will share the rest of her life with me." He raised the shot, she did likewise and they drank.
Brennan felt her stomach cramp and her heart freeze - it wasn't from the tequila. If she remained his partner, there was a distinct possibility that he would meet and fall in love with someone else. Brennan never expected to feel about anyone the way she felt about Booth so she had no expectation of ever feeling that way about anyone else. She didn't know if she could watch that again.
Whether he saw it or sensed it Booth felt the need to calm her fear. "But I need a little alone time, ya know? Time to get my head on straight. Time to take stock and appreciate what I have."
He caught her eyes in one of those intense looks that she had missed for so long. It was as if he were looking into her soul. "I can understand that."
Booth nodded to the bartender again. "Do you accept my apology, Bones?" He asked after the waiter had dropped the shots and left.
"Yes, I told you I did."
"I'm truly sorry." She nodded. He reached over and took her hand. She trembled at his touch. Booth smiled; it was nice to know that he had that affect on her. God knows she had it on him. "Thanks, Bones ... for everything." She nodded. He raised his glass. "To partners."
"Partners," she said sadly and downed the shot. He pressed her hand one more time before going back to his cold burger and fries.
Three months later Booth and Brennan again found themselves at the Founding Father's discussing relationships between men and women. They had just closed the case of a man who killed three wives and buried them in his backyard in small containers. His excuse was that they were trying to leave him.
"That is not love," Booth pronounced. "That is just crazy."
"You have told me on many occasions that love is a motive for murder."
"Well, murder is crazy."
"Love can make you crazy ... but what that guy was feeling was not love."
"I suspect it was in his experience."
"No, no, no ... there is nothing you can say that will get me to believe that what that guy was feeling was love. I love you but I would never kill you if you tried to leave me." It was out of his mouth before he knew what he was saying.
"I should hope not," she said quickly to help him save a little face. They had been getting along so well the past few months. She wanted nothing to wreck it.
Booth turned toward her. "I do love you, Bones. I would never force you to do anything you weren't ready to do, but ..."
"But?" She turned toward him too.
"But I want to take us to the next step." He thought he saw fear in her eyes. "This is not an ultimatum. This is just me, your partner, your friend - someone who knows you and loves you asking to progress this fantastic thing we have. I think we can be more, have more and not risk anything we have."
"Oh." She was speechless. It wasn't that she didn't want to; she just wasn't expecting him to ask again so suddenly.
"You know where I want to end up," he said. "But there is a lot of room for compromise as long as we are together. We can take it slowly, one step at a time."
She put her hand on his to stop him from talking. "Yes," she said easily. "I want that too."
His lips pulled back into a very sweet smile. His fingers brushed some hair off her face and curled around her neck. He pulled her toward him and she met him half way. Lips met softly and parted, the kiss deepened.
"Booth, Dr. Brennan!" Wendell said breathlessly. He realized what he had interrupted. "Were you two kissing?"
"What is it Mr. Bray," Brennan asked.
"Oh, right ... yeah ... you have to get to the hospital. Angela is in labor."
Booth and Brennan both smiled and shared a look. He took her hand and led her from the bar. Their new understanding had begun, and part of that joy would be the joy they shared with their friends as they welcomed a new life into the world. Seemed apropos somehow.